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Do you need a list of important travel documents to prepare for a long trip?
So, you’ve been inspired to go travelling or see somewhere new. You’re picturing your dream destinations and are ready to make it happen. But wait.
Have you given any thought to the important stuff? These are normally the boring things no one wants to plan. Let’s be honest, what’s fun about being sensible?
But honestly, these are things that should be taken seriously. By having these few documents sorted before you leave for your trip, things will run much smoother meaning you can enjoy yourself.
Before I get into the documents themselves, I have a quick point to make.
MAKE COPIES OF EVERYTHING.
With most of my documents, I’ll have an electronic copy saved to my email, as well as a paper copy in my luggage. This way, I always have a backup. If I end up somewhere with no internet access or I lose my electronics, I can use my paper copies. The same goes the other way if I lose my paper copy, I can use the one saved to my emails.
If you are very unfortunate and happen to lose both, I’d advise sending your travel partner or a trusted person back home a copy of all of your documents too. This way, you cover all of your bases.
Now, onto the list of the important travel documents needed for a long trip
This is probably one of the most important travel documents on our list for any overseas travel. If you don’t have an up-to-date passport, you’re not getting very far.
You could travel around your own country without one but for anything further away you need your passport. Some places even require you to have 6 months left on your passport when you leave their country.
The great news is, after the age of 16 in the UK you can keep a passport for up to 10 years.
Passport sized photos
In some places when you apply to extend or change your visa status, they will require a passport photo. By taking a few with you, you can save yourself from having to find a photo booth in a different country. I like to go to my local supermarket and get a set of 6 photos to keep with me.
Plus, they take up no space in your luggage!
Ok, so visas vary by place so it’s not a one-size-fits-all kind of situation. The USA for example requires that Brits apply for an ESTA before arriving in the country. Although this is electronic, you can print these out for your records.
Working holidays are another example. Canada has a physical document that will be stapled into your passport, but you need to have all of your paperwork ready before you arrive at the border.
By making sure any entry visas are sorted in advance, you’ll be ready for the trip.
If you are moving abroad or just visiting, it’s always beneficial to take your driving licence if you have one. Even if you don’t end up using it, it’s better to have it in case you need to rent a car instead of not taking it with you.
If you are travelling outside of the commonwealth or the EU you might need to get additional paperwork to use your license abroad. Some countries will require you to have an international driving permit rather than your standard UK one, although these are easy to obtain from a UK post office.
Check out these posts:
- The advantages and disadvantages of working abroad
- Honest disadvantages of a gap year
- Gap year advantages: 12 reasons why you should go
- 8 Working holiday visa opportunities for UK & British citizens!
In some places, it’s much easier to carry cash or traveller’s cheques with you rather than cards. By exchanging foreign currency in advance you have less to worry about at the destination. Depending on the bank you’re with, it can get expensive to withdraw cash. By having at least some of your cash with you, you’re prepared if anything crops up during the journey.
Maybe you need cash for public transport to get to your hotel, or for an airport snack. Or perhaps your card gets blocked and it takes a little time to contact the bank. Having cash can be a lifesaver.
Pro Tip: Always take emergency cash too since you never know when you might need it.
This is the cash you have that is kept separately from the rest of it. This way, if you lose your wallet or have anything stolen, you still have a small stash to get you out of a tight spot.
Debit & Credit Cards
I know I spoke about the negatives of cards above, but that’s not to say you shouldn’t take them. If you have a bank with low or no fees, then great, a card might actually be better for you!
I always opt to have a credit card with a healthy limit with me. This gives me a safety net if there is an emergency or I need a last-minute flight home.
The best feature of cards is that no one can get your money if you lose it. Unless they have your pin that is. This gives them an extra level of security compared to cash.
Proof of Finances
In some cases, if you are entering a country on a long-term tourist visa or work permit you may need to prove you have appropriate funds to support yourself. There is often a minimum money requirement you are expected to have when starting a working holiday visa too so you should be aware of how much you need.
This can be as simple as a recent bank statement showing the available funds you have access to. They often do not accept credit cards as proof so it’s always worth getting a paper statement printout just in case you are asked to show immigration.
Medical & Health
This is something that shouldn’t be skipped out on. Possibly the 2nd most important on our list of travel documents for any trip away from home. Even if you are extremely careful, you can never prepare for freak accidents.
Someone else may be acting recklessly and you might get caught in the middle. Luckily for British citizens, there are a lot of really great choices of long term travel insurance for you to choose from.
Family doctor’s information
Having a copy of your GP’s name and address with you can be useful if you need to visit a doctor during your trip. It makes it easier for the clinic to access your medical records if necessary.
Even for something as simple as getting a basic prescription, having these details with you can save you a lot of time. Not to mention if there is an emergency and the medical teams need to find out anything about your history to help you.
Blood type, Allergies or conditions
If you have no known allergies or conditions, then this may not be relevant for you. I like to include this on my list of travel documents due to the benefit they can have if there is an emergency.
Knowing your blood type can be very helpful should you ever end up needing immediate medical care. Having it written down helps them if you cannot tell the Dr themselves.
Vaccination record (if necessary)
Some countries require proof of vaccinations in order to enter, (even before covid-19). A prime example of this is the yellow fever vaccination.
After getting the vaccine they give you a certificate which you would need to show at the border to gain entry. Some destinations recommend vaccines, however, these are not always mandatory.
Sometimes they need a booster shot within a certain timeframe to be the most effective. By keeping a record of when you had them, it’s easier to know when the next one might be due.
This also makes it easier in emergencies to know what you are vaccinated against which can help medical professionals treat you correctly.
Next of Kin / Emergency Contact
Again, this is normally just in case of an emergency – but you just never know what will happen. In my last passport, I had a sticker inside with my Mum and Grandma’s contact details. This gave us all peace of mind.
If something happens, they would be contacted based on the information in my passport. Since I travel long term, my mum is the contact I write down should anything happen to me. It is such a small thing to prepare and can be extremely beneficial.
This is something that is often overlooked because let’s face it, people don’t like to think about what bad things could happen. I find this information to be just as important as the other travel documents (such as passport and insurance) so, of course, they’re added to our list.
Electronic Warranty/ receipts
This one is mostly relevant if you plan to take expensive items with you and put them under your insurance policy.
Many insurance companies will require you to show proof of purchase (usually within your home country) to cover them.
I found out the hard way when I had to buy a new phone in Canada when mine broke. When I tried to insure my phone for my next trip – even with receipt proof – they refused to let me add it to my policy.
Sometimes you need to prove you owned the goods before your policy started. A tip to do this is to take a photo of you WITH your item and turn on the date function on the camera. If you also have the receipt from the original purchase this can also help – although it’s not as useful as the photo if the item was a gift for example.
Probably one of the most exciting things you should have prepared is an itinerary. Even if you don’t have every hour booked, at least having a rough itinerary makes it easier to plan the rest of your trip.
By planning in advance what countries you want to visit, you can get prepared. This includes sorting out required visas, keeping up to date with relevant news and making sure you can enjoy your trip without any hiccups.
These are pretty important travel documents on a long trip because it’s about THE TRIP itself. You need to know where you’re going. If you are travelling far away, you’re probably taking a flight; however, this is relevant for most long-distance transport options.
You need to know your departure and arrival details in advance so that you can plan your route from the airport to your first location.
You’d be amazed how many people don’t pay enough attention when booking their flights. They could end up booking the wrong airport of the same name (Sydney in Australia vs Sydney in Canada for example).
If you do something that early in the trip, you’re not off to a good start.
You should always try to check in when you are able to. Online check-in usually opens around 24 hours before the flight departs. If you have access to a printer you can print out the boarding pass you receive by email. If you prefer not to carry lots of paperwork and have downloaded the airline’s app you have the choice to download the boarding passes instead.
Checking in online just saves you a lot of time so you don’t need to queue to get your tickets at the airport. This also helps you to remember what time you land at the next destination so you can plan accordingly.
Remember times are always shown in LOCAL time.
I understand some people like to “wing it” but by arranging your accommodation in advance you can relax sooner.
In some instances, your flight may be delayed. This means you might arrive after the hotel reception desk closes. By having their details, you can inform them and they normally find a way to make sure you can still check in even after your delay.
Plus, If you know where you are staying, you can plan your transport to get there as well as research the surrounding area. This helps you learn what amenities could be nearby should you need them.
Tip: Most bookings will be confirmed by email so you can keep them in your inbox or on the website you booked through.
My summary of important travel documents needed for a long trip:
I know some of these points may seem overwhelming for a new traveller, but I promise you, getting these organised will make your trip easier. If you can prepare and have everything sorted before you go your trip will run smoothly.
Remember, always keep multiple copies of everything, digitally or on paper. This makes your life much easier if you need to replace the originals too.
Now all the stressful organising is out of the way, Go out, stay safe & Enjoy your trip!